London - After walking out on his 15-year marriage amid rumours of an affair, Paul Hollywood declared he was single and happy.
But on Wednesday the Great British Bake Off star appeared to have eaten humble pie as he finally admitted he had cheated on his wife Alexandra – and wanted her back.
Confessing for the first time his infidelity with 35-year-old Marcela Valladolid, his younger co-judge on the American version of the show, Hollywood said leaving his wife was “the biggest mistake of my life”.
The 47-year-old baker and father of one said he had deserved the humiliating publicity surrounding his marriage break-up and was now working to win back Alexandra, who he says he still loves.
“I did have an affair in America with my co-judge and it was something which was the biggest mistake of my life because actually I still love my wife”, Hollywood said.
He said he “absolutely” wanted to be reunited with his 49-year-old wife, who has already started divorce proceedings.
“I’m at that point at the moment where we’re talking and we’re working to get back together again,” he said. “But it is going to take time.”
Hollywood was subjected to a tide of negative reaction from fans after he became close to Miss Valladolid.
On Wednesday he said his behaviour justified the harsh headlines that ensued and which tarnished his image as a clean-cut family man.
“It was deserved, because what I did was wrong,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “I was shocked about the whole thing kicking off the way it did... but I deserved it and I’ve taken it. It was my punishment.
“At the end of the day we’re moving on and I’m in a much better place. I’m getting emotional now.”
Even before Hollywood flew to Los Angeles in March to star in The American Baking Competition, Valladolid had described him as a “handsome devil”.
Two months later he moved out of the family home in Kent that he shared with his wife and their 12-year-old son Joshua, amid claims of the affair with his co-star.
When the programme debuted on US television in May it had some of the lowest ratings network CBS has had for a new midweek show.
On Wednesday Hollywood confirmed that the US series had been axed, and said he would not want to take part even if it was picked up by another channel in America. “At the moment, based on what happened before, I’d rather not thank you,” he said.
Mrs Hollywood revealed to the Daily Mail in July that she was divorcing her estranged husband on the grounds of his adultery. She insisted there was no chance of reconciliation, despite admitting he remained the great love of her life.
“I love my husband and I was and still am very proud of what he has achieved, but there is no going back and I just want this finished with and to move on,” she said. “I don’t know if he still loves me. I’d like to think there’s always going to be some affection there. You can’t share 15 years of marriage and not have anything left, but right now I just don’t know.
“In the space of four weeks my life changed irrevocably. One minute I was happily married and the next I wasn’t. It was a complete shock.”
In August Hollywood and Valladolid were spotted together in Majorca, but there were soon reports that they were no longer in touch.
He and Alexandra then resumed Twitter contact, exchanging messages on the social networking site, and recently celebrated their son’s birthday at a restaurant in Kent. He later said they had had several other meals together and she had made many visits to his new house. - Daily Mail
* The Great British Bake Off and Hollywood’s own Bread series are currently being screened on DStv’s BBC Lifestyle channel.